At the end of July, I was discharged from out-patient therapy. It felt like a real graduation for me because I had been going to therapy for 16 months. I wrote each of my therapists a letter to try and express my gratitude for each of them and their hard work. I know I owe so much of my progress and recovery to them.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was awarded a small scholarship through Saint Joe’s to study a topic that is very important to me, Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is an alternative form of justice that works towards the offender making amends. This takes various forms, but I wanted to do some background research and then try to take a restorative approach to seeking justice with the driver who hit me. Some of my research was by conducting interviews with friends and family members. I asked each person about their experience of when I had gotten hurt, what they’re opinions were on how justice would best be served, and then more broadly, what justice looks like in general. I was really grateful to get the perspectives I did because it gave me a sense as to what it was my loved ones went through last year. It gave me more compassion for what that was like.
This will all culminate in a Victim Offender Conference, which we are preparing for now.
This week, I will begin taking classes again at Saint Joe’s. I will be taking two classes and will be getting some academic coaching. It is exciting that I will be getting back on campus. I look forward to being around the friends and professors I love. My parents and I did a walk through this week, which also made me feel excited. I do sometimes feel anxious thinking of the challenges that simply navigating the campus may bring, but my feelings of excitement far outweigh any worries.
Several people have encouraged me to try and publish my journey. Writing has always been a dream of mine. This community has been so supportive, I wanted to ask if any of you knew anyone in the publishing world?
Thank you all for you continued support!
Julia and her besties Peter and George on her bday
NOTE FROM MOM
“There are some things that are a bummer, but they fall away compared to the blessings.”
What Julia can do since our last post in May:
Walk without a boot
Shower without a chair
Retain and follow up to 30 mins of TV
Step up on the curb without holding my arm
Walk down an incline without holding my arm
All of these are advancements in strength, coordination and balance so we celebrate them heartily! And she’s still healing…
Julia’s gait pitches her forward in a way that makes her look like she’s going to fall. She’s much steadier than she looks. We get a lot of side eye from people who don’t want to stare. But neither of us care (ok I care a little). “I’m sorry if walking with me makes you feel uncomfortable”, she says.” “When is the last time you saw me try to blend?”, I say. And we laugh.
The highlight of my summer was seeing Julia go into the ocean for the 1st time. In her sneakers. Up to her chest. Fall over and get up (with help) laughing. She says her goal, besides climbing trees, is to be able to ride waves next summer. When she said she was glad there weren’t a lot of waves, I said, “Me too, so you wouldn’t fall ”
“No”, she said, “so I wouldn’t feel badly about not being able to ride them.”.
Julia worked earnestly on her Restorative Justice project this summer. The research was cumbersome. Because one eye doesn’t work and the other is partially “broken”, Julia has to read a few inches from her face. It’s slow going. Her memory has improved, no doubt, but most things we have to drill into her through repetition and other strategies we’ve learned. When I say she can relate to her grandmother who, at 91, is experiencing her own memory deterioration, she says, “No, because I’m going to get my memory back; she’s not.” Believe and receive!
I don’t know if she can do 1 class much less 2, but if she’s game, I am too! On Wednesday, we practiced finding her classes, getting from 1 to another, remembering to turn left or right, which stairs to use. Fortunately, there is an elevator nearby to transport her up and down the floors. Her dad, the conscientious coach, was against this at first. “Do we want her to stick out like a sore thumb?” “You think her trying not to break her neck on the stairs while people wiz by her with backpacks isn’t going to make her stick out like a sore thumb?” Fair point, he says.
Julia’s Faculty Adviser, Julie McDonald, is helping us coordinate the VOC (Victim Offender Conference). My attitude toward the driver may be unseemly to some people. When I try to see that point of you, I think if someone tried to mow Julia down, that would be an entirely different story. Thankfully, I know this driver had no mal intent. I know that because he pulled over immediately and called 911. Because he stayed to talk to the police knowing he’d be arrested. Because I know the hell he’s gone through since the accident. His wife practically had to be hospitalized. Their whole family was effected. I met with him and his wife recently to ask some lingering questions. His wife told me this entire experience has deepened her father’s faith – and he’s a minister. Malchijah (driver) wants to learn more about restorative justice and maybe work in the prisons.
Julia and Faculty Adviser Julie McDonald @ SJU
Watching Julia back on campus in our “dry run” was emotional for me (which I hid until I got into the car). Not just because we had to cross the intersection where she was hit, but because she’s coming back as a different person. Watching her lumber down the hallway next to the flow of breezy coeds moving easily from place to place made my heart ache for her. Because that used to be her. Even though she’s walking along like she owns the place. My friend John said, “Maybe it’s harder on you than it is on her.” I think that’s apt. At least I hope it is. I tell her brother, whom we’ve just moved into college, any time you’re tempted to skip a class or ditch homework, think of your sister and how she would die to change places with you.
When I ask Julia, “How do you feel about starting school tomorrow?”
“Do you have any trepidation?”
“No, I’m going to take it 1 step at a time. Living one day at a time is the way I have to live because if I look too far ahead – or behind – I might get depressed. So I stay right here, in the present.“
Our days continue to be full of joy and laughter and learning, extracting the meaning of her accident everywhere. Last night, at a meeting, someone came up to us and said, “My name is Caroline. Someone sent me the link to your blog and, reading it, I honestly had a spiritual awakening. I saw you guys come in and I thought ‘That must be her!'”
Julia bounced out like Tigger, “Can you believe that?!” she said.